So kids can’t play once they start school?

#5’s form teacher has been calling me regularly complaining of his bad behaviour. I know he’s a very naughty child, but I was wondering what sort of bad behaviour he was up to that she had to scold him almost everyday. I asked her if he had been getting into fights again and she said no. I decided it was time to nip it in the bud, so I asked her to text me daily after school with either “Bad” or “Good”. This was so that I could either punish him or reward him immediately so he knows what he did right or wrong, instead of waiting for a week or two to hear from her about his ‘generally bad and disruptive behaviour’.

I sat him down and told him Mrs Ng called me again and I was very unhappy with his behaviour. I asked him to explain himself but it seemed that he didn’t even know what sort of bad behaviour she was referring to. Finally after much thought, he ventured, “Is it because I always talk without putting up my hand? And I play with my eraser and frog pencil?” (I discovered that the frog pencil was a mechanical pencil his teacher gave them for children’s day).

The next day, I asked him how did he behave in school. He said, “Er, bad? Is it during origami class?” (He thinks I now have immediate information about his movements in school) I asked him to elaborate. He said that during Art lesson, they were given origami paper and taught to fold a dress. He did not want to fold a dress so he folded a crane, and the kids seated around him must have been watching and they would probably have talked. The teacher scolded him for folding his own thing and for disturbing his friends.

I explained to him that he could not have his way, as there are both boys and girls in the class. Sometimes it would be ‘girly’ stuff which he does not want to do but he still has to do it because it is difficult for the teacher to please everybody.

Even though I explained it that way to him, I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and wondered if it should have been the way. Yes, I understand it is easier for the teacher to control the class if they were all compliant robots and followed step by step, but could she have been more open and receptive to kids with other ideas? Aren’t we trying to imbue creativity in our students? And it’s origami class for crying out loud, not Math lesson.

I spoke to some mummy friends about this and they said that most of the teachers they have come across in primary school expect such obedience. However, friends with kids in the international schools said that if you wanted to fold a crane, go ahead and fold a crane. The teacher might even have gotten the child to teach everyone to fold a crane. It reminded me of the enrichment class #5 went to during the June holidays and when he was not able to fold the dumpling the right way, he invented his own way and the teacher was flexible enough to allow him to do so.

Some of the mummies shared even more absurd stories of how some teachers insisted all the students paint the picture using the exact same colours. I guess now we know why Singaporean kids are not creative and can’t think out of the box. At the time when their creativity should be allowed to blossom, it is stifled. I wonder if we can find a way to marry the two, where we can encourage creativity and individuality within boundaries, in a setting where teachers feel able to handle the class.

The next day, the teacher texted me that he behaved badly again. She said that he was disruptive in class, talks unnecessarily during group work about unrelated topics and doesn’t put up his hands before speaking. Or if he does put up his hand, by the time he is called, he would say that he has forgotten what it was that he wanted to say. And he makes strange noises while lessons are going on. (Ok, I have no idea why he makes such noises.. perhaps he’s bored?)

I told him that he has to put his hand up before talking and to stop making strange noises. I didn’t know how else to deal with him so I spoke to #1 and asked her what she thinks (I was sure she has seen these sorts of issues with the boys in her class).

She looked up from her revision and said, “You know mum, this system is very strange. In primary school, we have to be quiet and raise our hands before talking. Spontaneity and creativity is not encouraged. But in secondary school, it’s the reverse. They want us to shout out the answers and contribute. He would fit right in where I am now, and the teachers would love him, but sadly, he will be pressed into this mould and over the years his desire to speak up will be curtailed as he is repeatedly punished for it.”

I was mulling this over and mentioned it to a teacher friend I bumped into in the market and she said that it was probably more the individual teachers, not the system. She lamented that #5 is the type of student the system is hoping to produce. Creative, out-spoken, courageous kids. Kids who dare to be different. However, some teachers do not support it as it is harder to handle.

 So much learning going on in free play

A few days ago, his teacher called me again, saying he was extremely naughty during recess. He and another boy shot rubber bands at their classmate. I questioned him about it, and in all earnestness, he tried to explain to me that they were trying to protect their friend (the king) from the enemy (the boy who was shot) and the rubber bands were their weapons. Sigh. This boy of mine. He sticks out like a sore thumb in this rigid sterile school environment. I’m sure he would feel right at home a generation ago where the boys happily caught frogs and fought one another with twigs during recess.

His teacher was exasperated and asked me how was his behaviour at home and what was his schedule like. I told her that after lunch, he spends his time playing with his baby sister, then does his homework. He goes to the playground every evening for an hour to play with the neighbourhood kids, usually soccer or ‘catching’. I could hardly believe my ears when she said “I think he’s playing too much. You should limit his play time. And you should start giving him tuition. He’s already in P2.”

I was speechless.

I think his teacher and I, we’re from a different planet altogether.

Related posts:

I did not give any of my kids tuition until the P6 year, as I believed that if they were of average intelligence, I expected them do relatively ok for the exams if they pay attention in class and hand in all their homework. However, this is not the case. They ended up failing just about every subject in P5. Read about it in “Why parents are forced to spend on tuition”.

6 tips to choose a Primary school, click here.

6 tips to choose a secondary school that is right for your child, click here.

Why we went on holiday just before the PSLE, click here.

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Kate’s 2nd birthday: A kampung affair

Our littlest turns 2! We had a party at home with close friends and family and I was heartened to see the older kids rally around and help out. #2 even invited her friends over and they were so sweet to come several hours earlier.

#3 was too tired to climb up to add ‘happy birthday’

They all helped to prepare the finger food for tea, decorated the cake and organised the goodie bags. #3 tried stringing some decorations from the ceiling but it didn’t turn out quite well. One of my good friends came by early and she gamely climbed up the ladder in her dress and added some finishing touches.

Initially when we asked Kate if she wanted a party she said no. You want presents? No. You want your friends to come and play? No. Finally the girls asked if she wanted a Mickey Mouse cake and she said yes. Since she’s only 2, I wanted to start small and not over-indulge her with an extravagant cake and decided to bake one ourselves.

The girls’ first attempt at working with fondant

Mickey Mouse seemed straightforward to make, with 1 large circle and 2 small circles. We bought ready-made fondant but it was pretty tricky to roll out as it was very sticky and we almost failed and ended up with a pretty miserable looking mouse. Thankfully another good friend turned up just in time to help. She had gone for cake decorating classes and was able to salvage the cake with the very limited resources we had.

We all worked hard but I think the medal for working the hardest must go to the hubs. He went to the supermarket at 9am and spent the entire day cooking. He boiled soup and made mee sua for our breakfast, then went on to cook bolognese pasta from scratch to feed the hungry troop before we started on the party preparations. As the guests arrived, he fried batches of chicken wings so they would be served piping hot. He even set up a BBQ for dinner and stood at the pit to make perfectly grilled steak. Medium? No problem. Medium well? Coming right up. He even made creme brûlée for dessert.

Some of my friends’ husbands couldn’t believe it and asked if he was a moonlighting chef. He finished off his daddy duty by showering Kate and getting her ready for bed. In case you were wondering where I was all this while, I was kept extremely busy entertaining the guests and making sure everything was running smoothly. Oh and of course, busy enjoying the food as well. He was glad her birthday comes around once a year. How I wish her birthday was every other week.

We could have gotten everything catered – the food, the cake, the decor. But this kampung style of everyone pitching in to help makes it all the more fun and something to laugh about in the years to come. Kate had a swell time and was happily singing and dancing even though it was way past her bedtime. Now she understands what a birthday means. When anyone wished her “happy birthday”, she will break into the “happy birthday” song ending with a loud “happy birthday to ME!” After all the excitement, she was totally knocked out and slept with her arms entwined with her best buddy.


Ah, so nice to be the 6th child.

Happy 2nd birthday, Kate!
~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Simple crafting with kids

I tried to do some craft with Kate a couple of months ago but she ended up making a mess and I wasn’t able to handle it. I got grumpy and annoyed at the whole mess and told myself to wait a bit. I forgot all about re-introducing it to her as we were always going outdoors during our mornings together. A post I came across on FB which I re-posted on my timeline reminded me to get started on craft with her. It’s been many years since I have done craft with the older kids and I organized the materials I found around the house in these see-through containers (from Howard Storage) so that I would be inspired to work with her regularly (even mummy needs motivation to get started).

Simple materials

I filled the little tubs with bits and pieces of scrap and unused stuff from the older kids and from our last scrapbooking session. Some ideas include

  • Buttons
  • Aluminium foil
  • Cut straws
  • Ribbons
  • Beads
  • Small pom poms
  • Coloured paper squares

One very useful tip I picked up from that post was to use a tray. This way, it not only contains the mess but it sets a boundary for the child. Somehow, psychologically, it also put me at ease. (art and craft = mess = stress) I found that so long as her work was contained in that tray, I was happy. (Tray was bought from Ikea).

Contain using a tray

I got this glue from Spotlight (around $15). It washes out in water and is non-toxic. I wanted something really mild as Kate doesn’t like glue on her fingers and will constantly ask me to use a wet tissue to clean it off if she gets it onto her fingers.

Kids Glue

I taught her how to apply the glue onto the foam and to turn it over to stick it. She insisted on applying glue to both sides of the coloured foam. Use nylon or plastic brushes (not those with natural bristles) as it is easier to wash out.

Lots of fine motor skills at play

This kept her busy for a good half hour… And ta-da! Her masterpiece. Her siblings returned from school and they all exclaimed, “Hey, what’s that? Nice!”

Kate’s first proper craft session

Don’t forget to display their work. No matter how strange it may look, they will be very happy to see that we acknowledge their efforts.

Sane tip: I used to plan elaborate craft sessions with the older kids and end up disappointed when they didn’t want to ‘do it properly’. Now I realise what is important is the process, not the outcome. I prefer to do simple set-ups and let their imagination and creativity flow and be totally present with them in the process. Lots more fun and less stress.

Save tip: Lots of things around the house can be recycled for crafting. Paper that is used to wrap our clothes bought in the malls, ribbons from birthday presents, ticket stubs and knick knacks from the older kids’ goodie bags are just a few examples.
Update: A reader left a tip on our Facebook page that a cheaper alternative is to make homemade starch glue. Can give that a try!

Happy crafting with your kids!

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Tips for saving money (from a Mum of 6)

Recently I was featured in the Chinese language newspaper about ways a family can save money. For those who read it, here’s a disclaimer. This is not a direct translation because some of the things the journalist wrote were slightly miscommunicated, although the article was generally accurate (to be expected, with a potato speaking to a ‘bao’). So here’s sharing 6 tips on how we save.

1) Toys

They get 3 presents from us a year – Birthday, Christmas and Children’s day. I don’t give them extra pocket money to save for toys. I find that method doesn’t teach them very much. I have come up with a better strategy to teach them financial literacy. Their pocket money is just enough to buy food in school (P1/2: $1, P3/4: $1.50, P5/6: $2). Besides that they are allowed to keep $200 per year from their hong bao money (the rest goes into their bank account) and if they finish it up they have to wait for the next Chinese New Year. I give them this lump sum to practice budgeting and hopefully inculcate good spending habits in them from young. (Rubbing my hands in glee awaiting the day I get some ROI… although I have been told “don’t bet on it!”)

Before I started this system, they were constantly whining for a small toy here, a small knick knack there, and those seemingly insignificant amounts added up to a lot. Now they get 3 gifts and that’s it. Oh, and ad hoc presents if either the hubs or I go on holiday without them. And of course, not forgetting the grandparents who spoil them silly (mostly #1).

Not only do I cap their toy expenditure to a fixed budget each year, my goal is to teach them to be responsible with their money. Initially they were overjoyed to get such a huge amount of money at their disposal and they will use it all up within a few months. However, the next year they will realise their folly and be more prudent with their spending. Paradoxically, when you hand over the reins to them, they end up saving most of it after the first year of learning that the cash is not limitless and no, unlike mummy’s wallet, the bills do not replenish themselves magically. I also teach them delayed gratification by getting them to note down the toys they want and to request it from their relatives for their birthdays. Sometimes, by the time their birthday comes around, they have already decided they don’t want the toy anymore. Very simple but effective way to halt the need to buy something every time they go out.

When they were young, I believed in buying good toys such as puzzles and blocks, and these sets can cost quite a fair bit. I would split the cost of the toys with the mummies in their playgroup and we would rotate them every month. Now that I’ve started blogging, we are so fortunate to receive lots of quality toys. A big thank you to our sponsors!

Dresses for CNY and Christmas

2) Clothes

Most of their clothes are hand-me downs from friends and relatives. They are so used to it that they don’t even question it. In fact, it’s loads of fun to get to choose from a whole pile of clothes. Besides, most friends these days have only 1 or 2 kids and their clothes are still very new. Now that the older girls are in their teens and have started to buy their own clothes, the younger ones are more than happy to receive their clothes once they outgrow them as their older siblings are more ‘fashionable’.

When we go on vacation and need winter clothes, we borrow from friends and relatives. They are quite happy to lend us as their kids have probably outgrown them. I find it not worth buying to be worn only once or twice, plus finding storage for bulky winter clothing is going to be a problem too.

If I need to buy new clothes for example for Chinese New Year, I shop on the internet and buy during the Black Friday sale which happens at the end of November. The discounts are massive, around 50-80% off. I got 2 of the above dresses from Carters during last year’s black friday sale, and they cost around $10 – $20 each. I usually share shipping with 1 or 2 friends to reach the cap of S$400 (no GST charged) as shipping gets cheaper the more you buy.

3) Activities

As the hubs works from home, and the kids hardly have any tuition or enrichment classes, we go for activities during the weekdays where admission charges are cheaper. Places such as science centre/sentosa, indoor playgrounds, cinemas, even buffets are all cheaper during the weekdays. Multiply that by 8 and it becomes substantial. Besides, I really dislike crowds so we like to stay home during the weekends. 

For holidays we like to travel during off-peak season as the air fares are lower, such as the one week break in October designated for PSLE marking, much to the chagrin of their teachers as the year-end exams begin on the Monday back in school. There was one year when #3’s teacher decided to hold extra classes during that week and #3 did not turn up. She called me on Sunday to enquire and I told her we just arrived back at the airport and she was dumbfounded. Before you balk at the idea, I have found out that their results doesn’t get affected much by a vacation before the exams. Besides, October is a great time to travel weather-wise.

4) Buy in bulk

The journalist was asking me to share some marketing tips, and the best times to spend on daily necessities in a cost-saving manner. (Maybe people think a mummy with 6 kids should have all these worked out. Well I don’t, so if you do know, please share with me.)

What we do is to buy our fish and meats directly from the wholesaler as you can imagine the amount of food our household consumes in a week. Not counting all the additional ‘random kids’ as my friends like to call the other children who turn up at our house regularly. There was this really cute boy (our neighbour) who declared to me yesterday, “I can stay in your house the whole day. What’s for lunch?”

5) Tuition

One of the big on-going expenses of Singapore parents with school-going children is tuition. Some parents start kids off with tuition from as early as Primary 1, and some go to the ridiculous extent of having several tutors for every subject when they are in P6 (group, individual, local tutor, native Chinese tutor).

For us, I only give them tuition as a last resort, mainly in the P6 year to plug the gaps. Sometimes, in P4 or P5 they request for tuition but I tell them having tuition is a luxury as it costs a lot of money. I tell them to put more effort to figure it out themselves or to ask their teachers for extra help. Most teachers are willing to give them extra help after school, and #1’s teacher even opened her home to give them extra lessons before the ‘O’ levels. I encourage them to ask their friends for help on subjects they are weak at, and to return the favour in subjects they are strong in. When I finally give them tuition in P6 or in Sec 4 they will cherish the extra help from the tutor.

There was once when #1’s tutor texted us 5 minutes before tuition to cancel and #1 was already seated at the table with her books open. She exclaimed, “Huh! How come?” Her godma was so amused and said that this was the first time she saw a child disappointed in not having tuition instead of jumping for joy. I choose my tutors very carefully and get them to teach in a way which the child learns best. I will not waste my money and my child’s time on tutors who do not produce results. I will also communicate with their tutors regularly to see how we can best address the needs of the child. That was how we managed to get #3 from failing her subjects to 2nd position in class.

#1 asked for Math tuition in Sec 2 but I refused to give her, simply because I wanted her to learn resourcefulness and not take the easy way out and rely on someone to spoon feed her. In the end, by Sec 4, she managed to work her way up to an A grade. So proud of her. In most primary schools, if they fall below a certain grade for their exams, the school provides remedial lessons. Some parents dread to see that white piece of paper which they have to acknowledge, but I’m more than happy to allow them to attend. Free tuition! Why not?

After having 3 kids go through the PSLE, I realise that for #1 and #2, it was fine for them to start tuition in P6 and still manage straight As, but for #3 who was much weaker and who had several inexperienced teachers over the years, I should have started her in P5. For the next 3 kids, I will monitor them more closely to see if they need to start tuition in P5. However, I refuse to make tuition a part of their lives because I have seen how many of their friends dread tuition and feign illness to skip it. Some of their other friends have the mentality that they don’t need to concentrate in class because they can always rely on their tutors. Ends up, their parents are paying unnecessarily for tuition instead of utilising tuition judiciously to plug the gaps.

6) Part-time jobs

I get them to work from the time they turn 14. Nope, contrary to popular believe, it’s not child labour. It is perfectly legal to work part-time from 13 years old (I told them I will kindly give them 12 months of grace period). People ask me where can 14-year olds work? I am careful about where they work as they are still young, so it is either in friends/relative’s companies doing things like waitressing or simple clerical work, or to give tuition to friends’ children.

Similarly, when they are in secondary school, I give them enough money to buy food in school (Sec 1/2: $2.50 a day, Sec 3/4: $3 a day) and they are still allowed to keep the $200 a year from their hong bao money. By the time they are in Secondary school, $200 is not enough to last them a year. Thus, the money that they earn during the June and December holidays will go towards their expenses on their outings with their friends and to pay for their shopping.

I firmly believe in the value of paid work, especially with this generation of entitled kids. This is to teach them the value of money and that it is easy to spend $50 on a pair of jeans but not easy to earn that $50. And the best part for mummy is that henceforth, they are responsible for earning their own keep. 2 down, 4 to go!

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Kate’s antics: The long slope

What does Kate do when there are no dogs or cats to play with on her morning walks?

Run up and down the slope.

Gathering speed…

“Luckily I didn’t fall”

She did it so many times that passer-bys stopped to watch her. Some with their mouths agape. There was one old auntie who stopped and watched her half in horror and when Kate finally reached the bottom of the slope she clapped for her!

After 20 minutes of the slope, she’s figured velocity out. Now what? Time to figure out the stairs.

And that’s how she spent the whole morning. Beats going to school, no?

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Melbourne – a family-friendly city we love

Melbourne is one of the most family-friendly cities in the world, with lots to see and do. Here are 6 fun activities to take the kids to and you can easily find them all over Melbourne. We stayed in the Mornington Peninsular area as that was the only place where we managed to find accommodation for 30 people under one roof, and it turned out to be a really lovely part of Melbourne to explore.

1. Visit a Farm or Wildlife sanctuary

The first thing that came to mind for the kids was to get up close and personal with kangaroos and koalas. We went to Moonlit Sanctuary which was just a short drive from our rented house. They have kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, emus, tasmanian devils and many more Australian animals. They even conduct evening tours, which has to be booked in advance.
Feeding wallabies

Moonlit Sanctuary

Admission fees:
Child (4-15 years): $9
Adult: $18
Under 4: Free
Family: (2A 2C): $48

Operating Hours:
Daily 10am – 5pm (except Christmas Day)

550 Tyabb-Tooradin Road
Pearcedale, Victoria 3912, Australia


“Who, me?”

2) Outdoor family fun

The Enchanted Maze Garden is a huge gardens filled with lots to do. The kids came here mainly for the tube slides which is suitable for both children and adults. Kids under 5 have to sit with an adult, and there is a maximum weight of about 100kg. I normally wait at the sidelines and watch while the hubs accompany them, but the kids kept telling me “Mum, it’s not scary at all, not even for you” that I dared to give it a go. Yup, they were right, and it was pretty fun doing it together with them. Only thing is it might be quite hot during summer to drag the tube up the slope. We had a brilliant time as we went during the beautiful spring weather.

You can easily spend half a day here as there are indoor and outdoor mazes and other simple game-like structures dotted around the park. There is also tree-surfing, which is like our forest adventure, where you are harnessed and navigate an obstacle course high up around the trees. They have fixed timings for tree-surfing, and it’s better to book in advance. There is a cafe on the grounds, right at the entrance. Everyone has to pay to enter the grounds, even if you just sit at the cafe.

Kate zooming down with her daddy

The Enchanted Maze Garden

Admission fees:
Adult: $29
Child (3-17) $19

Operating Hours:
Most parts of the park: 10am – 6pm
Some slightly earlier or later. Full details of operating hours, click here.

55 Purves Road
Arthurs Seat

Maze hedges

3) Horse riding

Initially, we wanted to ride all the way to the beach, however that would have taken us 2 hours so we settled for the trail ride which lasted for an hour. This is also suitable for the entire family. After we came back to Singapore, #3 told me she has changed her mind. She doesn’t want a dog anymore. She wants a horse. And she’s going to name her Caramel. I’m sure I will hear no end to this.

Younger ones on the smaller horses (background)

Gunnamatta Trail rides

We went for the Trumans Bush Ride (50 – 55 mins)
Suitable for beginners (min 6 years old)
$70 adult / $60 child

Operating Hours:
About 9.30am – 4pm
Advance booking necessary
(They require a booking deposit via credit card)

Corner of Truemans road and Sandy road, Fingal, Vic 3939

4) Go Karting

You might think Go-karting = speeding. However, it is up to you to control the speed, and even our aunt who is in her 60s tried it. Both the men and the kids enjoyed themselves so much that they went back again the next day!

We went to Le Mans Go Karts which happened to be the newest and largest go karting track in Victoria. As we had a big group, the adults did a 30 lap race. The kids were broken up into ages, with the teenagers doing a 30 minute race while the little ones did just 10 minutes. There are ample sofas and chairs indoors for those not joining in to wait and they sell light snacks and drinks.

#5 thoroughly enjoying himself

Le Mans Go Karts

10 min $23 (8 – 15 years) $32 (16 – adult)
20 min $42 (8 – 15 years) $57 (16 – adult)
30 min $57 (8 – 15 years) $75 (16 – adult)

Operating Hours
Sunday – Thursday 10am-11pm
Friday & Saturday 10am-11.30pm

11-55 Waterview Close
Dandenong South VIC 3175
7 year old niece did the small track (background)

5) Bush walking

When we told the kids we were going to Point Nepean National Park for a walk, they looked incredulous. Walk? While on holiday? Weren’t we running short on time with plenty more to do? In the end, they enjoyed the walk. Lots of little animals and birds to spot, ending at the beach for a nice family photo, and the cool weather contributed greatly to their enjoyment of the walk.

Point Nepean
6) Free playgrounds

We chanced upon this marvellous Rye community playground right by the beach. It looks like a dream playground and it was indeed conceptualised by the kids themselves, funds were raised by the community and the entire playground was built in 5 days by 700 skilled volunteers.

Where: Rye foreshore, Point Nepean Road, Rye.
Playground by the beach

Not forgetting the food.

When in Melbourne, we always make a stop in Chinatown for yum cha. The hubs used to frequent Sharksfin Inn when he lived here ages ago, so it was a must-visit for him. The selection is wider and they still serve them pushed out on trolleys. My all-time favourite yum cha item is this deep fried meat dumpling with a chewy crust, and these are the best I have found so far!
Another must-eat for us in Melbourne is the Vietnamese pho and we stopped by Springdale for it. Quick, fuss-free and satisfying meal, especially lovely eaten on a cold evening.
We thoroughly enjoyed our vacation with the extended family and I’m sure we will be back again someday! #3 is already making plans for her future – she wants to set up a cafe in the countryside with horses grazing nearby.

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Lesson #10: Who’s selfish? The kids or me?

It just dawned on me that all kids are altruistic. Somehow somewhere along the line, they learn the mentality of scarcity and start to hoard things for themselves.

Last week, I was discussing the issue of happiness with them and trying to impress on them that we don’t need material things to be happy, but if we learn to give from our hearts, that’s where we will find happiness. 

We were sponsored a really beautiful shower head from GROHE and I used the opportunity to ask them if they would like to give that up to another child. I made it real to them by telling them that many other children are not as lucky as them to be living in a big new house with such nice spacious bathrooms, and a gift like that would surely brighten up another child’s day. Honestly I was surprised that they agreed to give it away without much hesitation (although #3 did say, “But it’s really really nice, mum”). I’m quite sure that was the end of it for them and they never thought about it again.

But you know what? I thought about it the whole day. Especially when I read your comments on our Facebook page about how pretty it was and how delighted your kids would be to receive it. And I was asking myself why in the world did I suggest to the kids to give it away.

“Give money to the cow?”

I thought back to the other times when I asked them to be charitable and their generosity became apparent to me. The fact that #4 decided to donate her entire collection of rainbow loom charms to raise funds for the chronically ill children without second thought. The previous time when I asked them if they would like to donate any of their pocket money to help the dear elderly nuns, I told them the story of how their convent was old and leaking. #1 did not donate, but the other girls donated between $30 and $120 each, and #5 even told me to take all the money from his piggy bank.

I realise that so long as you tell kids the story behind it, their natural response is to help. Sadly, as we grow older, we become apathetic to other people’s plight. Perhaps if we keep giving them opportunities to practice being charitable it will become second nature to them.

I am still peering into their hearts and learning from them, and maybe one day, I am able to say “Here, take everything I have.”

Other lessons (which I’ve learnt the hard way):

Lesson #15: What are we worth, mums?

Linking up with:

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Thankful for… #2 – the dream baby

#2 has always been a very easy child to bring up. When she was a baby, she was content to simply eat and sleep. My mum-in-law ended up taking care of her most of the time because she would take her into her room and place her on the bed while watching TV, and she would play with the bed frame and when she got tired she would suck her fingers and fall asleep. At night, we would put her in the crib, and while we were still talking and walking in and out of the room settling #1 for bed, she would fall sleep by herself. No soft music, black out curtains, fancy images on the ceiling. Nothing.

It was also really easy to feed her as she ate most anything. This would have become a problem for her weight, but luckily, she had a natural method of elimination. She had a gastrointestinal issue (which she has since grown out of) so when she ate too much, she would regurgitate everything. We had regular BBQs on the weekends and at the end of the evening, she would throw up. Everyone knows that she shouldn’t be over-fed, and when I go round asking who fed her, someone would have given her just a piece of steak, another one just a chicken wing, another one just a sausage, another one just some sweet potato.. The best part was, after throwing up, she would continue with dessert.

As she grew up, she was such an obedient child. I only needed to tell her my instructions once and she would obey. “Pay attention in class and listen to your teacher.” And that was what she did. “Read a book everyday.” And she did. She followed every rule to the T, to the extent that one day I found her waiting outside the bathroom. I asked her why didn’t she go in. She said, “Daddy said to shower at 6 o’clock.” I looked at my watch, it was 5.58pm.

She is not comfortable looking after babies as she is not confident in handling them. However, once her siblings pass the age of 4 and becomes in her words ‘more rational’, she automatically takes on the responsibility to teach them to cycle and rollerblade. She has a lot of patience and would preserve till they master the skill.

She hardly gave me any problems at home or in school. She was always the teacher’s pet or model student and when I meet her teachers they always tell me what a delight it is to teach her. In P6, her form teacher even called her his ‘PA’ and after the PSLE, she sat up front with him and helped him with his admin work. She is that dependable.

She’s a very easily contented child and doesn’t ask for much. In fact, she rarely asked for toys and was happy to play with whatever she got from her older sister. She doesn’t ask for much attention and is happy spending her free time designing her own craft projects or publishing her writing on her online fanfic platform. Recently, she found out that #1 and #3 asked their grandma for diamond earrings (nope, my mum doesn’t heed my demands to stop spoiling them) so she requested for a guitar. She knows lessons are expensive and didn’t even dream of asking me for them and she has taught herself a couple of songs by watching youtube.

Now that she is 14, she is not that obedient anymore and is starting to question everything, especially with influence from her international friends on Twitter. Oh well, at least I had 14 good years where this child was amazingly easy to bring up. Perhaps she could see the mayhem around her and felt sorry for me 😉

Thankful Tuesdays:

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has” – Epictetus

Thankful… for the hub’s cooking
Thankful… for #5’s cooking and caring of Kate
Thankful… for #3 in so many ways
Thankful… for sister-in-law #1

Thankful… for our helper
Thankful… for my family
Thankful… for my mum-in-law

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~